Jargon buster: Intellectual property (IP)
Trademarks, patents, design rights and copyrights made simple.
Please do add your own jargon-busting snippets in
the comments section below. The more lingo we can demystify
together, the better.
Assignment: transferring IP rights to someone
Author: the creator of copyrighted work.
Claims: the parts of an invention you want to
protect when you apply for a patent.
Confidentiality agreements (CDAs): also known as
non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). You can't copyright trade secrets
so you get people exposed to yours to sign one of these for legal
Copy-protection devices: technology that prevents
people from making copies of copyrighted work.
Copyright: free protection for creative work such as
literature (manuals and marketing copy included), theatre scripts,
films, music, art, broadcasts, recordings and book layouts.
Copyright automatically applies to new work, so there are no forms
to fill. It prevents your work being copied in any medium.
Database right: this protects databases in much the
same way as copyright protects artistic works. It too is free and
Defensive patent: a type of patent that protects the
owner from being sued rather than safeguarding a device.
Design right: automatic, free protection for the 3D
aspects of your design, excluding surface decoration (which is
covered by registered design). Use this IP
Office table for differences between design right and
Enforcement: what you do to stop people infringing on
your intellectual property rights, such as suing or taking out an
injunction. For some IP rights you need to prove your work was
copied (such as design rights). Check with the IP Office for more
Entitlement: the right to own a patent.
Equivalent: a patent filed overseas that's the same
or very similar to a patent filed in the UK. They're usually filed
by the same person on the same date.
Importation invention: an invention that already
exists but is being brought to the UK for the first time.
Infringe: copying or doing the thing protected by
intellectual property without permission. If someone starts
manufacturing your patented device, they're infringing your
Innocent infringer: someone who infringes IP who
could have no way of knowing the invention or material was
protected, and so is exempt from any legal action.
Insufficiency: a reason for a patent being rejected,
meaning your description of your invention doesn't explain how it
Intellectual Property Office: the
government body responsible for IP rights in the UK.
Internal priority: when you're able to file an
application for the same patent someone else has already applied
for within the last year and in the same country, and you get
priority over them.
International patents: Patents only cover the country
where you applied for them, so you need to apply elsewhere too to
get international protection. See equivalent and visit
the World Intellectual Property Organisation for
Inutility: a reason for a patent being rejected,
meaning your mechanism doesn't work.
IP rights: the umbrella term for how IP is legally
protected, including trademarks, copyright, design right and
patents. UK IP rights don't usually cover you in other countries so
you need to apply separately there to protect your idea abroad
(copyright is an exception to this).
IP: intellectual property. Property (which in legal
terms mean anything you can own) that's a result of intellectual
effort and original creative thinking, such as inventions, artworks
Licence: when an IP owner gives someone else
permission to use their IP. It's written out as a contract.
Madrid Protocol: legal reference meaning you can
apply for IP rights in other countries when you already have a
patent in one.
Monopoly: exclusive rights to IP. Patents and
registered designs give you a monopoly.
Moral right: the right to be recognised as the author
of a copyrighted work.
Patent: IP rights covering the functionality of your
product: how a specific part works. The mechanism must be new and
not covered by any other patents. You need to renew a patent after
five years, and then every year for up to 20 years.
Plant breeders rights: protection for newly-created
varieties of plants or seeds. Go to the Plant Variety Rights Office
and Seeds Division in the Department for Environment Food and Rural
Priority: how long you have after filing a patent or
registered design in one country to file and equivalent application
(with the same filing date) in another. Compare with internal
Protect: to safeguard your idea or invention against
being copied, by owning its IP rights.
Provisional specification: a short description of
your invention in your IP rights application. You expand in the
Publication right: you get rights equivalent to
copyright if you're the first person to publish a literary, musical
or artistic work where copyright for the work has expired.
Registered design: exclusive rights for the look of
your product, including its 2D decoration but excluding
functionality. The £60 registration allows you to sell or license
your design. Use this IP
Office table for differences between design right and
Registration: getting protection in a specific area
because you've been granted a UK patent.
Renewal: IP rights expire so you have to renew them,
usually for a fee. This happens after five years then annually for
patents, every five years for registered designs and every ten
years for trade marks.
Restoration: going about reviving your patent when
it's expired because you haven't paid the fees.
Revocation: when a patent, registered design or
trademark is taken off the register.
Statement of Invention: the part of your written
application for a patent that outlines its purpose, though not
detail of how it works.
Trademark: symbols that identify your business and
its products, such as your logo, domain name and slogan. You need
to apply for a trademark. It must be distinctive and within the
bounds of law and morality.
Trailer Clause: look out for this in your employment
contract. It gives an employer the rights to a former employee's
inventions for a set period after they've left the business.
Working requirements: means that your invention is
limited to use in a specified country. Your IP rights can be
revoked if you defy this requirement.
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